FIDE Rated Open Section?

Ever since the ECF introduced its membership system, we’ve regularly had questions asking if we would consider making the Open section of our event FIDE rated. There are several attractive aspects to this idea:
  • We’d regain our position as a qualifying event for the British Championships. The ECF changed the conditions of eligibility a few years back, and for a single event such as ours to be considered a qualifying event, it must now be FIDE rated.
  • It feels like it would give our event a “higher standing” in some sense.
However, the idea is not without problems:
  • While most entrants to our Open section are Gold members of the ECF, not all are, and it’s Gold membership which is required to enable FIDE rating.
  • While FIDE regulations remain as they are, unless we had a rating ceiling for the Open section (!?), we couldn’t meet their conditions without either removing a round or shifting round 1 to Friday evening. Lots of congresses have round 1 on the Friday evening, but it would significantly change the character of our event, and moreover we’d incur a large increase in our hire costs for the venue, which we would in turn have to pass on to our entrants. I’d expect the increases to be at least 50% and likely more than that.
I gather there is some talk of FIDE making the restrictions on rated tournaments less restrictive, and if that came to pass we’d certainly be revisiting this question as the second problem noted above would be circumvented entirely. What do readers think about this issue? Is my attempted statement of the pros and cons accurate and complete, and have we drawn the right conclusion in not making any section of the event FIDE rated? Comments from readers with a better understanding of the current and possible future FIDE regulations would be particularly appreciated.

Congress Prizes

Not sure who, if anyone, will be reading this the first post on the Bury St Edmunds Chess Congress blog. You’ll find me posting here occasional oddments relating to our event, and perhaps sometimes things related to chess events more generally. A question to begin with: to what extent does prize money available for a tournament make you more likely to enter? Winning a large prize would no doubt be a boon, but with the prize winners being a small proportion of the entrants overall, I’m wondering whether it would make sense for us to organise things differently. We could offer no prizes and massively reduce the entrance fee, or lessen our reliance on sponsors. Or we could use the saving to invest and improve the tournament conditions. What do you think? Our current prize schedule can be found here. You’ll see that in addition to the monetary prizes we are also (at the time of writing) offering chess.com membership prizes. There is also a handsome trophy for the best local junior. How would you like prizes to be organised? What’s most motivating? And are there other things you’d prefer we spend the money on? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. On a side note, I have occasionally wondered about some amusing prizes I could add to our schedule, and to explain them I will need to take a rather circuitous route. As some of you may know, in spring 2018 we added a small dog to our family. I’m still rather surprised that my wife and daughter went with my name suggestion: Magnus. Anyone else got chess “themed” pets? One of my chess club colleagues said it was quite wrong to call our dog Magnus, as Magnus is supposed to be the G.O.A.T. and not a dog, but anyway … Having easy access to this Magnus give me the chance to offer some great/weird sounding prizes:
  • Play a game with Magnus
  • Thirty minutes 1-to-1 with Magnus
  • A lick from Magnus
  • Rub Magnus’ tummy